File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Lit candles and photographs are seen on display at a vigil for Calgary homicide victims Sara Baillie and her five-year-old daughter Taliyah Marsman, in Calgary.

Trial hears double-murder accused was asked to check hospitals for missing woman

CALGARY — A former girlfriend of a man on trial for a double murder has testified she asked him to check hospitals when her best friend vanished along with her friend’s little girl.

Edward Downey, 48, is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Sara Baillie and her five-year-old daughter Taliyah Marsman in 2016.

The ex-girlfriend can only be identified as A.B. due to a publication ban. She testified Tuesday from behind a screen so that she would not have to face Downey in the prisoner’s dock.

The trial has heard Baillie, who was 34, failed to show up for her shift at the Chili’s restaurant at the Calgary airport on July 11, 2016, and that Taliyah had not attended daycare that day.

A worried co-worker contacted A.B. to see if she knew anything and A.B. called and texted Baillie repeatedly.

She got messages back that didn’t seem to be coming from her friend, she said.

“She was using one-word answers and that’s not how we conversate.”

The Crown has suggested someone else was using Baillie’s phone.

Concerned friends and family gathered at Baillie’s suburban basement apartment later that day. Neither mother nor daughter were there. Baillie’s purse was inside, but her car was missing.

A.B. said she and Downey dropped by restaurants that Baillie frequented and A.B. asked him and her brother to check hospitals.

“We’re worried. We don’t know where she is. Where else could she be?”

Downey never indicated he knew anything about what happened to Baillie or Taliyah, she testified.

Text messages read aloud in court show that a day earlier A.B. had told Downey to pack his bags and leave the townhome they shared. But he did not move out, she testified.

They continued to live together until Downey was arrested days later, the trial heard.

Prosecutor Carla MacPhail has suggested Downey blamed Baillie for the relationship breaking up and for his then-girlfriend’s refusal to work for him as an escort.

A.B. described how, about a month before Baillie’s death, she and Downey argued through open car windows outside a downtown Calgary nightclub and he struck his then-girlfriend in the face.

A.B. and Baillie were in the same car when it happened.

The woman saw her friend again the next day, she said.

“She was afraid for me.”

The woman told court she financially supported Downey throughout the roughly two years they were together and provided a home and a vehicle. Money was getting tight, she said.

That’s when Downey asked her if she wanted to work as an escort and they put up an online ad. She told court they went together to purchase massage oils and condoms and drove up to Edmonton in her car.

She went into the home of one client and was paid upfront. But they only talked and had a drink while Downey waited outside.

The second night in Edmonton, she got sick, she said.

“He was not happy about that,” she testified. “I came there to work and it didn’t happen.”

She decided she didn’t want to try escorting again.

MacPhail read aloud text messages between A.B. and Downey nine days before Baillie was found dead.

“She is bad,” she said Downey wrote, referring to Baillie. ”Just be you and not look at the way she is.”

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